The Judicial Selection Process in North Carolina and New York

This paper is a study of the various qualifications and selection processes of judges in the states of New York and North Carolina. It also compares the qualification requirements for a judgeship in the jurisdictions and the removal from office of judges those states. The state with the best selection process has also been identified.

The judicial selection process in North Carolina


Section 22 of the North Carolina constitutions provide that only persons authorized to practice law in the state can be eligible for selection to be a judge in the Supreme Court, the court of appeal superior or district court. However, the section does not apply to individuals who serve in the same capacity before January 1981 (Orth " Newby 2013).

The selection process

Section 16 of the North Carolinas constitution of the terms of office and election of the justice of the supreme court, the court of appeal and superior court judges provides that judges shall be elected by qualified voters and shall hold office for eight years and until their successor is elected and qualified. Eligible voters in the state choose superior court judges while the regular judges in the courts may be selected by suitable voters or by voters in their respective districts. In the case of a vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement (Orth " Newby 2013).

North Carolina’s judicial election process is increasingly competitive. The state is a two competitive party state and no longer, where no political party can take the citizens loyalty for granted. Nonpartisan elections are the conventional mode of judicial selection in the jurisdiction, but political parties still play a prominent role. The populist regime is a cultural force that makes the gubernatorial merit selection a less likely option to gain acceptance. Merit selection is perceived to take the selection process of judges away from the people and put them in the hands of the elite. The governor appoints thirteen special superior court judges to hold office as required in the state. The judges can preside in any county but can also be assigned anywhere in the state (Copper " Knotts 2012).

Judicial Selection Process in New York


Section 20 (a) of the state’s constitution is on judges and justices requirements, eligibility for other office or service restrictions. It provides that no person may resume office as a judge of the court of appeal, the court of claims or the justice of the Supreme Court unless he or she has been admitted to practice law at least ten years in New York. No person can assume the office of the judge of the county courts, surrogates, family and city courts unless they have been admitted to practice law for at least five years in the state or the number of years determined by the legislature. The judges of town and village courts are not required to be lawyers but must take training courses that have been prescribed by the lawmakers (Galie " Bopst 2012).

Section 20 (b) provides that a judge who has been selected to any of the courts mentioned above cannot any other public office or trust unless it relates to court administration, member of a constitutional convention or the united states armed forces in the jurisdiction. Such a judge cannot be an eligible candidate for a public office unless he or she resigns from the judicial office and if a resignation has not been tendered within ten days of acceptance of the nomination to another office, the person’s office will become vacant. This part is aimed at ensuring the integrity, impartiality and fulltime devotion of judicial judges (Galie " Bopst 2012).

A sitting judge is not allowed to assume any duties or hold office, to exercise the power of any political organization or be a member of a governing or executive agency. He or she cannot engage in the practice of law, act as an arbitrator, a referee or compensated mediator in any proceedings or participate in the in the conduct of any other profession or business that interfere with the performance of judicial duties. For district court judges in addition to licensing they should be residents of the district in which they are elected (Galie " Bopst 2012).

The Selection Process of Judges within the New York State

New York has adopted a merit-based selection for the judges, and the method has provided the opportunity to preserve the existing role and relationships in the selection process. Under the merit plan, nonpartisan attorneys, judges, and other luminaries sift through the application of candidates and present the shortlist to the governor. The governor appoints one of the individuals in the list who serves the first term without an election. The appointee will then stand for a retention election without opposition, and the electorate is simply asked whether the judge should be reelected (Pecorella " Stonecash 2012).

A different merit selection operates for the court of appeal judges since there is a requirement for Senate confirmation of the selection, elimination and retention selections of the governor. Another difference is the composition of the nominating commission. In New York, this body is bipartisan instead of nonpartisan because of the configuration guarantees an equal number of democrats and republicans. The governor also appoints judges to the appellant division of the Supreme Court and the court of claims. Recent appointments have come from the proposition by a judicial screening committee that exists through an executive order and lacks a constitutional standing. Therefore, New York uses both elections and appointments in the selection of judges (Pecorella " Stonecash 2012).

Compare and contrast the qualifications for a judge in North Carolina and New York

North Carolina’s criterion requires that a person is licensed to practice law in the state and for district judges they must be residents of the districts in which they are elected. In New York, however superior court judges are required to have at least practiced law for a minimum of ten years while the lower court judges need at least five years of experience. The North Carolina constitution precludes judges who had been serving before 1981 from the requirement of licensing. The preclusion, however, has been critiqued since it will forever disqualify such judges from licensing especially those serving life terms in office, which they are appointed. The qualifications for New York are straightforward and require more experiences for a person to preside as a judge either in the superior of lower courts (Orth " Newby 2013; Galie " Bopst 2012).

The Process of Removing a Judge

Judicial discipline process can also be used to remove a judge from office through a disciplinary commission (Quality Judges Initiative 2017). In the state of New York, the commission on judicial conduct will investigate a complaint against a judge, which should be in writing and signed through a complaint form or a letter that explains the misconduct. The specifics of the charge should be presented to a judge before a removal order is entered and the individual will be given an opportunity to be heard. Judges are obliged to cooperate with the disciplinary officials on inquiries into their behavior. Failure to work with the commission and to act in a manner to thwart the efforts of the officers amounts to misconduct (McKinley 2018). The judge is entitled to legal representation and may present evidentiary data for consideration by the commission. If it is determined, the discipline is warranted the commission may remove a judge from office. A judge who has been charged with a formal disciplinary issue has thirty days to seek a review from the court of appeal. If there is no request for review, the commission’s decision becomes effective (Feignberg 2007).

In North Carolina, justice or a judge of the general court may be removed by the general assembly for misconduct by a joint resolution of a two-thirds majority. Before removal, a judge will receive notice accompanied by a copy of the alleged causes of discharge at least 20 days before the assembly acts on it by impeachment (Orth " Newby 2013).

The state with the best selection process

In New York, a statewide committee of the appellate court and a local committee for trial judges base the selection of judges upon merit that involves a nominative process of judges. The nominee’s names are sent to the governor by the committees to make appointments. The appointees will then face an election a year running against their record (Pollock 2011). In North Carolina, however, the selection process is by voting. The state with the best system of selecting judges in North Carolina since it is based on a nonpartisan ballot and therefore the selection of judges is in the hands of the people and not the political elite.


Cooper, C. A., " Knotts, H. G. (2012). The New Politics of North Carolina. UNC Press Books.

Feinberg, J. R. (2007, September 1). Judicial Ethics in New York State — Part 1. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from New York Legal Ethics Reporter:

Galie, P. J., " Bopst, C. (2012). The New York State Constitution, Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press USA.

McKinley, J. C. (2018, April 11). In a Rare Step, Commission Recommends Removal of Judges. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from The New York Times: Judge

Orth, J. V., " Newby, P. M. (2013). The North Carolina State Constitution. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pecorella, R. F., " Stonecash, J. M. (2012). Governing New York State, Sixth Edition. SUNY Press.

Pollock, J. M. (2011). Crime and Justice in America. New York: Routledge.

Quality Judges Initiative. (2017). FAQs Judges in the United States. Institute for the Advancement of American Legal System., 5.

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